BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost):—It is two years since The eruption of antagonism between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the leader and founder of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) Church, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, who is arguably the richest person in Malawi.
The political rivalry became prominent in the year 2015, soon after former President Joyce Banda patronized the ECG prayers in the Republic of South Africa. Banda, who emerged third the presidential race during the 2014 tripartite elections, left the country soon after President Peter Mutharika was declared the winner.
Her presence at the ECG saw DPP-sponsored online publications, Malawi Voice and Malawi Independent, coming wave after wave with articles linking Banda and Bushiri to the infamous cashgate scandal, a systematic looting and plundering of public resources.
Whether it was fear of the unknown, the DPP planted propagandists in many social media platforms attacking the Malawian-born, South Africa-based Prophet.
Malawi Voice, in March, 2016 also published a story which maliciously accused Prophet Bushiri of having a hand in the mysterious death of a well-known gospel musician Grace Chinga.
The story angered the man of God and he involved a prominent lawyer Ralph Kasambara who is currently in prison. During the funeral of the gospel singer, some boys who were alleged to be sent by DPP chanted songs against Bushiri.
That is the craven politics being played by the two sides. All this, is because Bushiri is suspected by the DPP elites of harbouring political ambitions, and obviously his popularity and the unspoken wealth are what bothers the Blue camp which will definitely depend on the shrinking government pulse in its campaign activities.
To avoid his domination in the country, the government is doing everything in its power, to frustrate the young billionaire’s efforts to assist the country in different spheres of development. The latest of this is the Malawi national team’s ability to participate in international tournaments.
A few days after, the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) announced its decision to pull out of the continental tournament of the African Cup of Nations, and cited financial constraints as the major reason. Prophet Bushiri came in with an offer to finance the flag carrier’s participation; thereby rescuing FAM and the country from the thousand dollar penalty fees involved with a withdraw at this stage of the ball game.
The Prophet offered FAM a timely rescue package to enable the Flames to take part in the 2019 AFCON and 2018 Championship of African Nations (CHAN) tournaments.
“President of South Africa-based Shepherd Bushiri Investments (SBI), Prophet Shepherd Bushiri has offered to bankroll the Flames to participate in AFCON and CHAN.
“The billionaire entrepreneur, who is also leader and founder of Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG), says the onus is now on FAM to approach him using right procedures and also present a budget which will be scrutinized by his finance personnel,” read the press statement signed by ECG Public Relations Officer Ephraim Nyondo.
His offer came at a time the Malawi government made it clear that its shrinking pulse could not fund the national team in the two continental competitions.
However, apparently after the media was awash with the news that Bushiri offered to fund the team, the government has come in and assure the FAM of funding for the two competitions.
According to FAM President Walter Nyamilandu, the association has received communication from government that funds will be sourced for both AFCON and the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN).
Nyamilandu made the assurance in an interview with BBC Sport.
“The government has now said not to withdraw, it will find the money.
“I can guarantee we will participate in the 2019 Nations Cup and CHAN 2018.”
In March, 2016, Government also blasted Prophet Bushiri for its K44 million donation to the Malawi national football team instead of the government Account Number One.
Minister of sports Grace Chiumia, according to a report by one of the local radio stations, said government was not pleased that Bushiri donated the money directly to the Football Association of Malawi (FAM), rather than through the Ministry of Finance.
But Bushiri said he made the donation as a soccer -loving Malawian and added that he had to do it quickly so the Flames could travel to Guinea.
However, the DPP-Bushiri antagonism seems to be a never-ending one as long as both still exist. It’s a political battle entertaining the electorates on the road to 2019 General elections.